Sports News

Mugabe hands Olympic medalist $100,000 cash reward

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (L) congratulates swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Kirsty Coventry (R) in Harare August 29, 2008. Mugabe presented an award of $100,000 for Coventry's achievements in the Beijing Olympics. REUTERS/Stringer

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Friday handed the country’s only Olympic medalist in Beijing a $100,000 cash reward for her performance at the games.

Swimmer Kirsty Coventry smashed the world record to win gold in the women’s 200 meters backstroke. She also captured three silver medals.

Mugabe handed the U.S-based swimmer the cash at a ceremony in Harare carried live on state television.

“Our national spirit must exude joy and pleasure and say you have done well, daughter of Zimbabwe. We are proud of you, we wish you well. She’s our golden girl ... take care of her,” he said at the ceremony.

The U.S. dollars, scarce in a country struggling with an economic crisis marked by a severe shortage of foreign currency, were carried in a briefcase by Zimbabwe’s central bank governor.

Other members of Zimbabwe’s Olympic team received between $2,000 and $10,000 each.

Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by MacDonald Dzirutwe